In the past few years, wireless mesh networks have become increasingly popular as a way to blanket a home or office with a strong, reliable wireless signal. But what exactly is mesh Wi-Fi, and how does it compare to traditional Wi-Fi routers?
Let’s take a look at the benefits of wireless mesh networks so that you can decide if it’s the right choice for your business.
What is Mesh Wi-Fi?
Mesh Wi-Fi is a type of wireless network that uses multiple access points (APs) to extend the signal throughout a large area. APs are connected wirelessly to each other and to the main router, creating a “mesh” network. This type of network is ideal for large homes or offices where traditional Wi-Fi routers may struggle to reach all corners with a strong signal.
The multiple APs of a mesh Wi-Fi vs a traditional router’s single access point means mesh Wi-Fi can cover a larger area seamlessly with fewer dead zones.
Advantages of Mesh Wi-Fi
There are several advantages that mesh Wi-Fi has over traditional Wi-Fi routers.
1. Better Coverage
As we mentioned before, one of the main benefits of mesh Wi-Fi is that it provides better coverage than a traditional router. With multiple APs spread out throughout your home or office, you can be sure that there will be no dead zones where the signal is weak or nonexistent.
2. Easy to Set Up and Use
Another advantage of mesh Wi-Fi is that it’s very easy to set up and use. Unlike traditional routers which can be difficult to configure, most mesh Wi-Fi systems come with an easy-to-use mobile app that makes the setup process a breeze. Additionally, since mesh APs are all connected wirelessly, you won’t have to worry about running any messy cables through your walls or ceilings.
3. Flexible Scalability
Mesh Wi-Fi networks are also very scalable, meaning they can easily be expanded as your needs change. If you find that your current system isn’t providing enough coverage, simply add another AP to the network to extend the range. Conversely, if you find that you have too much coverage (i.e., APs placed too close together), you can remove an AP from the network without affecting the rest of the system.
4. Improved Performance
Another benefit of mesh Wi-Fi is that they offer improved performance over traditional routers in terms of speed and reliability. This is because mesh networks don’t experience contention issues (i.e., when multiple devices are trying to use the same resources at the same time).
5. Cost Savings
In addition to providing improved performance, mesh Wi-Fi systems can also help you save money in the long run. This is because they don’t require a separate router for each access point, which means that you won’t have to purchase additional hardware or pay for extra installation fees.
Now let’s take a look at the disadvantages of a mesh Wi-Fi system.
Disadvantages of Mesh Wi-Fi
1. Expensive Upfront Costs
While mesh Wi-Fi systems promise long-term savings by eliminating the need for expensive Ethernet cabling, the initial cost of setting up a mesh network can be quite high. Depending on the size of your office or building, you may need multiple nodes, which can quickly add up. In addition, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of professional installation if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
2. Limited Bandwidth
One potential downside of mesh Wi-Fi systems is that they often operate on a single band—usually 2.4 GHz—which can lead to overcrowding and reduced speeds. This is because most other devices in your office or home (including microwaves, Bluetooth speakers, and cordless phones) also operate on this band. If you have a lot of devices competing for bandwidth on a single mesh node, you may start to experience lag or other performance issues.
3. Potential Security Risks
Another thing to keep in mind with mesh Wi-Fi is that each node creates another point of entry into your network that potential hackers could exploit. If one of your nodes isn’t properly secured, it could provide easy access for someone with malicious intent to steal sensitive data or wreak havoc on your network.
4. Dependence on Power Outlets
Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers that can be plugged into an Ethernet port, mesh nodes must be plugged directly into an outlet—which means you’ll need to have outlets strategically placed throughout your office or building in order for them to work properly. If you don’t have enough outlets or they’re not conveniently located, you may need to hire an electrician to install additional ones, which can further drive-up costs.
5. Compromised Signals
Finally, another potential downside of mesh Wi-Fi is that signals can become compromised when they need to pass through physical obstacles. Walls, floors, and other structures can attenuate the signal strength and reduce your overall coverage area. To get around this issue, you may need to invest in additional nodes or range extenders, depending on the size and layout of your office or building.
How to Use Mesh Wi-Fi
1. Place Your Nodes
The first step is to place your nodes in strategic locations around your office or building. Make sure that you have at least one node for every 1,000 square feet of coverage area and be sure to avoid placing them too close to potential signal-interfering objects like microwaves or cordless phones.
2. Connect the Nodes
Once your nodes are in place, you’ll need to connect them together using a Wi-Fi bridge. This will allow them to communicate with each other and enable seamless roaming for users who move from one node to another.
3. Configure Your Network
The next step is to configure your network settings, including the SSID (network name) and password. You’ll also need to set up security protocols such as WPA2 or WPA3 to protect your data from potential hackers.
4. Monitor Performance
Finally, it’s important to monitor the performance of your network on a regular basis. This will help you identify any potential issues and adjust as needed. You can use a variety of tools for this purpose, including Wi-Fi analyzers, speed test apps, and other monitoring software.
By following these steps and taking the time to understand your mesh Wi-Fi system, you can ensure that you get the most out of your network and experience fewer issues in the long run.
Mesh Wi-Fi systems offer a lot of potential benefits for businesses—namely, extended coverage and easier installation than traditional wired networks. However, there are also some potential disadvantages that you should be aware of before making the switch, including high upfront costs, limited bandwidth, and security risks. Weigh both advantages and disadvantages carefully to decide if mesh Wi-Fi is right for your business needs.
Kital is your one-stop shop for the latest in wireless mesh network technology. We offer a wide range of products and services to keep your business connected. With our cutting-edge products and experienced team, we can tailor a solution to meet your specific needs. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you stay connected.